Northern Ireland: Amnesty International condemns Chief Constable's 'blatant disregard' of human rights standards in Taser decision

Amnesty International has condemned the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde's decision to introduce Tasers in Northern Ireland despite not meeting human rights and equality standards as set down by the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Equality Commission. Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International Northern Ireland programme director, said:

"Only last week the Chief Constable said there would be no deployment of Tasers in Northern Ireland until equality and human rights concerns were met. Now he is pressing ahead regardless with the deployment of this potentially lethal weapon.

"This demonstrates a blatant disregard for the human rights standards and for the legitimate concerns of many ordinary people.

"Research into Taser use shows that here are serious doubts over the safety of these weapons, particularly when used on vulnerable groups of people such as those with heart conditions or under the influence of drugs. These concerns have already led a number of American law enforcement agencies to rule against using the devices. Let's be clear; people are at serious risk of injury, or in some cases death if the Taser is used without adequate safeguards."

Amnesty International has studied the use of Tasers in the US and Canada, where more than 220 people have died since 2001 after being 'Tasered'.

Tasers are powerful electrical weapons used by over 7,000 law enforcement agencies in the USA and by police forces across Britain, with more than 3,000 of the devices distributed to special firearms officers since their introduction in 2003.

They temporarily disable a suspect by delivering a 50,000-volt shock, incapacitating the individual and causing them to fall to the ground.

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